About 25,000 jubilant Argentine fans hailed soccer legend Diego Maradona on Sunday as the 58-year-old took over at the Primeira Division's Gimnasia de La Plata club, returning to manage in Argentina for the first time in almost ten years.
“I won't miss once single training session. Here you come to train and those who don’t train, don’t play. He who doesn't run, doesn't play!” he said during a presentation ceremony at a stadium in the city of La Plata outside the capital Buenos Aires.
In an apparent nod to a previous World Cup event, he also claimed that “he who doesn’t jump is an Englishman”.
Maradona may have been referring to a quarter-final between Argentina and England at the 1986 World Cup, in which he did not think twice before handling the ball into the net past goalkeeper Peter Shilton, a stunt that the then 25-year-old dubbed “a hand of God”. It also evoked resentment dating back to the 1982 Falklands War with the UK.
The goal was counted in the face of furious protests from England’s team, which finally yielded to Argentina 1-2 in the encounter.
Training Gimnasia de La Plata will be Maradona’s sixth job as head coach, including his being at the helm of Mexican second division club Dorados de Sinaloa.